Today is my day off, so my plan was to sleep in. That plan changed a little after 7 a.m. as I was half-listening from bed to NPR on the kitchen radio as my wife got ready for work when a segment on the Trump Administration trying to sell its health care plan to Congress came on. It changed the minute I heard these words come out of the mouth of lobbyist and former Trump tactician David Urban: “Avert your eyes, America!”
That was the point where I stopped sleeping in. From the NPR transcript:
URBAN: You know, the old saying is you don’t want to watch sausage or legislation being made, and so avert your eyes, America.
GREENE: You’re telling Americans not to pay attention to this debate?
URBAN: I’m just saying that, you know, if you don’t want to see the legislative process at work, that’s what’s happening right now.
But that’s exactly the point, Mr. Urban. We DO want to watch this legislative process at work. Every minute of it.
That’s the point that got me out of bed at 7 a.m. on a day off to start tweeting and blogging. That’s the point that has us organizing and mobilizing to shine the bright light of day on every attempt to bamboozle the American people into losing the health care they have under the Affordable Care Act. It’s the point that has us in the streets at marches and rallies. It’s the point that has us filling up town hall meetings and the voice mail inboxes of our senators and representatives.
We are watching. And we will not avert our eyes. We will not avert our eyes as this administration breaks yet another campaign promise and lobbies for a Deplorable Care Act that puts millions of Americans in jeopardy of losing heath care altogether and millions more at risk because of pre-existing conditions.
We will not avert our eyes at efforts to block people with Medicaid coverage from accessing preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers, including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment. We will not avert our eyes as Congress debates a bill that prevents new states from expanding Medicaid starting in 2020 and implements an enrollment freeze that will drastically undermine Medicaid coverage.
We will not avert our eyes and ignore provisions that slash funding for the Medicaid program, which low-income women and people of color disproportionately rely on for health care. And we most certainly will not avert our eyes ― or our ears ― lest we miss moments like this one from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) during the 27 hours of debate on the House Floor earlier this week:
“I was struck last night by a comment I heard made by Speaker Ryan where he called this repeal bill, quote: ‘An act of mercy.’
With all due respect to our Speaker, he and I must have read different scripture. The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and comfort the sick. It reminds us we’re judged not by how we treat the powerful but how we care for the least among us.
Mercy. Defined in purely secular terms is passionate treatment for those in distress. It is kindness; it is grace. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill.
There is no mercy in a policy that takes for granted the sweat and tears and sacrifice that working Americans sweat every day to care for their family’s basic needs. There is no mercy.”
This isn’t sausage being made, Mr. Urban. This is democracy in action. And we’re not going to miss a minute of it, because we can’t afford to.
In this struggle to decide whether we’ll be a nation of liberty and justice for all or a nation of profit and health care for just some we will not be diverted by unhinged tweet storms or delusional rants about wire tapping. We will not be distracted by “alternate facts” about lives lost in a massacre that never happened in Bowling Green when the actual fact is that millions of American are at risk without access to affordable health care. We will not avert our eyes.
We are woke, Mr. Urban. As woke as I was at 7-something a.m. when I heard you on NPR this morning. We are woke to the game of, “Avert your eyes, America. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain dismantling your democracy and gutting affordable health care.”
To paraphrase one of the themes from Hamilton (the so-sold-out-nobody-can-get-a-ticket-to musical which is about ― wait for it ― the “sausage making” of our nation): History has its eyes on you. And so do we. And we are most certainly not throwing away our shot. Even if we have to get up early on our day off.